Bruce Almighty: The Restoration Of Bruce The Shark

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures sinks its teeth into restoring original working model shark from 'Jaws'

With the 91st Oscars just days away, many in Hollywood are gearing up for the red carpet, hoping to triumph on the big night and take away one of those gleaming 8 inch statuettes. Many see winning an Oscar as the epitome of cinematic awards, with some legendary names having received the honor, including our own Richard Dreyfuss & Steven Spielberg. But there is one person who is getting something better than any award.

Name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait.

Name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait.

"Bruce the shark" got his nickname from master filmmaker and Jaws director Steven Spielberg, he was named after Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer. For a while, Bruce was king of the hill, was at the top of the Hollywood food chain being the most successful movie ever made! But over the years, while Jaws gew to become a defining cinematci classic, Bruce the animatronic shark was faded into the background. He tried his hand at entertaining the crowds at Universal Studios but he continued to cause problems and the Jaws Ride was scaled down to become part of a back-lot studio tour.

But now, Bruce is being celebrated as part of the ongoing restoration of an exhibit for the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Jaws Production Designer Joe Alves with Junkyard Jaws

Jaws Production Designer Joe Alves with Junkyard Jaws

Jaws Production Designer Joe Alves observes the restoration

Jaws Production Designer Joe Alves observes the restoration

A total of four sharks were built for the movie and were lost over time, but one of the Bruces was discovered. Check out our blog about Bruce’s discovery here: Junkyard Jaws

"This shark ended up going off to a junk yard in Sun Valley," said Greg Nicotero, a Hollywood special effects director. When we met Greg back in 2016, he swore us to secrecy and revealed he’d been tasked with restoring the shark for the Academy Museum. "This was on display at Universal for probably 15 or 20 years," Nicotero said. "So when you went to Universal you could pose with the shark."

At 25 feet long, working models of this size are a thing of the past.

At 25 feet long, working models of this size are a thing of the past.

“You’ve got a Hell of a fish of a fish out there, with a mouth about this big.”

“You’ve got a Hell of a fish of a fish out there, with a mouth about this big.”

“You know how you can tell? By looking from the dorsal to the tail.”

“You know how you can tell? By looking from the dorsal to the tail.”

"It was in pretty rough shape," said Sophie Hunter, objects conservator at the Academy Museum. "It needed a major restoration. It was filled with wasp nests and dirt."

"We've stripped all the old paint off of it, we're patching all the cracks, we have to redo the eyes," Nicotero said. "We're gonna restore it what it would have looked like on day one of filming for Jaws."

"Today, they would do CGI," said Joe Alves, "Jaws" production designer. "Bruce was not CGI. This was a full-sized thing in the water."

Greg Nicotero with Bruce in a secret location somewhere Los Angeles

Greg Nicotero with Bruce in a secret location somewhere Los Angeles

The Academy Museum will draw from the unparalleled collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which includes more than 12 million photographs, 190,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 61,000 posters, 20,000 production and costume design drawings, and 104,000 pieces of production art. We are sure crowds that come to see the newly restored Bruce will make the Academy shout “We’re gonna need a bigger auditorium!”

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